Perhaps The Other Charlotte, who is a lawyer, can set me straight, but it seems to me that the government went about the Zacarias Moussaoui case all wrong.

How can you try somebody for not preventing a crime (though, for the record, I don’t regard 9/11 as a crime, the attack was terrorism, not law-breaking)?

Isn’t being a declared al-Qaeda affiliate in our country to do us harm enough to merit severe punishment? Why make the case about his ties, difficult to prove, to the attacks of 9/11?

I imagine part of the reason is that belonging to an organization that has declared war on us isn’t enough to justify incarceration today. Think of those poor, suffering souls at Guantanamo.

If there was ever a case for a military tribunal it was Moussaoui. I am not sure he deserved the death sentence, but I have been nauseated by the rejoicing in certain circles that he didn’t get it.

The dependably-condescending Jesse Kornbluth of Beliefnet, for example, applauds the jury’s (apparently rare) ‘sanity’ in ‘not executing the insane.’

Michelle Malkin rejected the insanity bit:  

Playing the mental illness card allows the blind to continue deluding themselves about what University of London, King’s College, professor Efraim Karsh calls Islamic imperialism. Jihadists didn?t start claiming war on non-believers in 2001 or 1993 or 1948. They have aspired to conquer for ages. These historical claims are ‘frequently dismissed by Westerners as delusional, a species of mere self-aggrandizement or propaganda,’ Karsh writes in his new book. ‘But the Islamists are perfectly serious, and know what they are doing. Their rhetoric has a millennial warrant, both in doctrine and in fact, and taps into a deep undercurrent that has characterized the political culture of Islam from the beginning.’

Yet, the bleeding hearts foolishly and suicidally persist with their Poor Little Jihadist propaganda and call for sympathy and understanding for the Root Causes that fueled the 9/11 hijackers, Moussaoui, convicted Islamic shoebomber Richard Reid, the Muslim gunman who murdered two people at Los Angeles International Airport’s El Al ticket counter in 2002, and the Koran-invoking Tar Heel terrorist who rammed his SUV into a busy student square at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. And on and on.

Yet, on this, I find myself strangely in agreement with the Washington Post, which opined that life in prison was the correct sentence:

Mr. Moussaoui undoubtedly came to this country intending to do it great harm. But nobody knows whether the Sept. 11 attacks could have been stopped had he told authorities the truth after his detention. People should not be executed for what they meant to do or what might have happened had they acted differently.

On the one hand, on the other hand, on the…but I have to admit Peggy Noonan makes a darned good case for both the way the government tried the case and the death penalty.